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Deutsche Post AG : Jan 25, 2012: State aid ruling of European Commission will not affect net profit or dividend proposal

01/25/2012 | 08:26am US/Eastern
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Deutsche Post DHL, the world's leading mail and logistics group, will file an appeal with the European Court of Justice against the state aid ruling made today by the European Commission and has aligned this decision with the German federal government. In 2007 the European Commission initiated a formal investigation against the Federal Republic of Germany concerning alleged unlawful state aid to Deutsche Post AG. During the investigation, the Commission addressed matters they had examined earlier during similar state aid proceedings from the year 2002 and that had ended in a defeat for the Commission in September 2010 as a result of a company appeal in the ultimate legal instance.

"The EU Commission's ruling on a repayment is incomprehensible and has no basis in fact," said Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL. "It stands in clear contradiction to an earlier EU decision and the outcomes of similar proceedings. If you examine the state aid rulings on other European postal service providers, it becomes quite clear that here the Commission has applied double standards. We are absolutely confident that the decision will have no validity in court and are proceeding on the assumption that the amount plus interest will be repaid."

The current proceedings focused on state grants like financial equalization and the funding of civil servant pensions at Deutsche Post. In its decision today, the Commission found no case of incompatible state aid with respect to financial equalization.

No other state aid proceeding are pending

When the Commission examined the funding of civil servant pensions, it did however reach the conclusion that the pension expenses of Deutsche Post were in part incorrectly assessed in the case of price approvals by the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) and thus in some cases involved incompatible state aid. The EU Commission, according to its current ruling, demands that Deutsche Post repay this state aid to the Federal Republic of Germany in the amount of 500 million to one billion euros. Given information already provided, the company assumes the amount will be at the lower end of the range. Moreover, no other state aid proceedings involving the Group are pending at the European Commission.

Since it is the company's opinion that today's state aid ruling cannot withstand legal review, the payment that is to be made in the next few months will be recorded only in the balance sheet for 2012. As a consequence, company earnings both in the past fiscal year and in the years to come as well as the basis of the dividend that is yet to be proposed for fiscal year 2011 remain unaffected by the decision. The liquidity of the Group will be temporarily affected by the payment, but will continue to remain solid.

At the same time the company has assessed its operational performance in the past fiscal year as successful, six weeks before the presentation of the 2011 figures. "I am very satisfied with our performance in the past year, a year in which we met the guidance that was repeatedly revised upwards," said Frank Appel. "We have shown impressively that we are excellently positioned and that we have every reason to continue to look optimistically into the future."

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